Thursday, December 25, 2008

Something I have wondered

Elders Have Less Room for Bad Thoughts
As the Brain Ages, It Remembers Things Differently, According to New Brain Imaging Study
By Caroline WilbertWebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
Dec. 16, 2008 -- Older people may be less likely to remember emotionally negative things because the brain works differently as it ages, according to a new study.
A new study used brain imaging technology to see how participants' brains were working when they were exposed to images -- some negative and some neutral. While in the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine, participants ranked each image on a pleasantness scale. Negative images included things like mutilated bodies and attacking snakes.
Participants were later asked to recall the images. Neuroscientists looked at how the brain reacted during exposure to the images -- and then examined how that brain activity correlated with recall.
Half of the 30 participants were young (average age 24) and half were old (average age 70). All were women. The study was published in Psychological Science.
Researchers from the Duke University Medical Center found that younger women were more likely than older women to recall negative images. In both groups, there was greater memory of negative images than neutral images.
Although memory of negative images was linked to activity in the brain region involved in emotional memory (the amygdala), there were differences in the connectivity between the two age groups.
Older adults had more connectivity of the right amygdala; the younger group had more of the left amygdala. Older adults also has less connectivity between the amygdala and other memory areas of the brain such as the hippocampus, but increased connectivity with a different area of the brain.
"Perhaps at different stages of life, there are different brain strategies," Roberto Cabeza, senior author and Duke professor in the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, says in a news release. "Younger adults might need to keep an accurate memory for both positive and negative information in the world. Older people dwell in a world with a lot of negatives, so perhaps they have learned to reduce the impact of negative information and remember in a different way."
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Upon talking to older relatives I would mention something negative that had happened and they would not remember..........this explains why, I guess I am not old yet, I still remember negative happenings.


  1. This is great news! Maybe in a few years I won't have to try so hard to reduce the impact of negative information !! :) Merry Christmas !

  2. interesting article! having just spent Christmas day with my in-laws (both in their mid 80s) they still remember a lot of negative things, but they are kinder about these events whereas before they would have been more outspoken about them, make sense?

    Hope you had a good Christmas day


  3. You know Claudia that is interesting because we were very poor on the farm. I was the baby of the family. I do remember bad and good but mostly good. The bad are the times when members of my family were ill, the shock of knowing my brother had a tumor on the brain that he would not live through surgery. He was 20 when he died, my brother being diagnosed with diabetes, watching my sister struggle with the after effects of polio when she was 3, my brother who burned to death in a gasoline transport train accident, but what is good it not thinking of those first. I thought of happy times. first.

  4. I remember every thing that happened whan I was sMALL good and bad, except I was so much younger that I over heard a lot. Do you think I may miss the negative impact thing. Lucy

  5. My goodness, I hope this is right! I am looking forward to reaching that point in my life!!

  6. This is very interesting to me. My grandmother suffered from dementia. Towards the end of her life she seemed to look back at things with a wierd type of euphoria (very childlike) when we all knew what she had been through in her life. We thought it was the dementia taking over but perhaps there was more to it than that.

    Not that I want to get old too fast but it would be nice not to have negative information affect me too much.